Caravan and mobile home owners
If you live in a caravan or a mobile home on a residential site you have some basic rights which are protected by law. For these rights to apply, you must live on the residential site on a permanent basis and have done so for a period of at least 12 months. These rights do not apply to people who holiday in caravans or who live in a caravan or mobile home on a site that is specifically and solely for holiday accommodation.
Right to a written statement of agreement
From 16 September 2011, anyone who lives in a mobile home or caravan on a residential site in Northern Ireland is entitled to a written statement of agreement. This statement is like a tenancy agreement and should contain information on the contract between yourself and the site owner.
The statement should be provided to you within 28 days of your renting a pitch from the site owner.
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What should be included in a written statement of agreement?
Your written statement of agreement must, by law, contain the following information
- your name and address
- the name and address of the site owner
- the particulars of the pitch which you are renting
- the duration of the agreement
- information on how you can end the agreement
- information on how the site owner can end the agreement
- information on how overpayments should be recovered if the agreement is terminated
- information on what you should do if you want to sell, re-site or gift the caravan
- information on your right to the quiet enjoyment of the caravan
- the site-owner’s rights of entry to the pitch
- the site fee, the date on which the fee will be reviewed and what procedures must be satisfied before the fee can be changed
- your obligations regarding repairs
- the site-owner’s obligations
- details of any residents’ associations which operate on the site.
In addition to these compulsory terms, the site owner can also include any additional terms that are considered appropriate and reasonable. These could include limitations on pets or information on car parking.
The information in your written statement of terms cannot take away from your basic rights.
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Can the site owner terminate the agreement?
The site owner can terminate the agreement, but only under particular circumstances and only after obtaining a court order. To apply for a court order to end the agreement, the landlord must be able to prove one of the following:
- you have broken a term of the agreement. If this is the case, the site owner must give you reasonable time to put things right before making an application for a court hearing;
- you are not living in the caravan as your main or only residence;
- the condition of the caravan is having a detrimental effect on the amenity of the site. In this circumstance, the court may allow you time to carry out repairs to bring the caravan up to standard.
In any of these circumstances, the court must be satisfied that it is proportionate to end the agreement.
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Freedom from harassment and illegal eviction
If the site owner wants you to leave the site, he or she must follow the correct process, detailed above. If the site owner refuses to follow this procedure, he or she could be found guilty of an illegal eviction.
You are entitled to the “quiet enjoyment” of your home and pitch. This means that the site owner or any workers employed by the site owner cannot intrude on your home or your pitch without your consent.
However, the site owner is entitled to enter the pitch, without giving prior notice between 09.00 and 18.00 if the purpose is to carry out repairs, deliver written communications or read meters. Outside of these hours, the site owner may only enter the pitch to carry out essential repairs or emergency works. In this circumstance, the site owner must give you as much advance notice as is reasonable.
If the site owner wishes to enter the pitch for reasons other than those specified above, he or she must give at least 14 days’ written notice of the date, time and reason for entry to the pitch.
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Right to go to court
You have a right to have your case heard in the County Court if you believe any additional terms added by the site owner in your written statement of agreement are unfair or unacceptable. You must first negotiate with the site owner to have these terms changed.
If your site owner decides to raise the pitch fees and you do not agree to the new fee, the site owner may apply to the court to have the increase imposed.
As with all court action, seek advice before making a decision. Taking legal action can be expensive.
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